1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
It’s not unusual for someone who has committed some great sin to then come to know Jesus but still feel unusable and unworthy. Our human minds can have a hard time understanding the clean slate that God’s forgiveness offers us. But once we’ve been cleansed by the blood of Christ, God doesn’t see us as who we used to be anymore, even if that is still how we see ourselves. God doesn’t hold up some past transgression as a blockade to future service to Him. God doesn’t save us from those sins so that we can remain trapped by them and allow them to hinder us from fulfilling the purpose He has for us.
God’s grace never leaves us behind to be what we’ve always been. He wants us to grow and change and move forward. He wants us to be renewed in Him and shed the past and the guilt associated with it. He wants us to take up the task of His higher calling and leave those old things where they lie. In fact, like Paul, we can recognize that we don’t have to be who we used to be. God enabled Paul to be an apostle despite his past persecution of the church, and we are all unworthy of whatever calling He has given to us, but He chooses to use us by His grace.
Did Paul work so hard for the cause of Christ after his conversion to sort of make up for what he had done before? Was it purely out of gratefulness that he toiled so hard? Was it just that that was the kind of person that he was and he used those energies now for Jesus instead of against Him? Maybe those things were part of it, but God’s grace is what built Paul into who he was, the kind of servant he was, the hard worker that he was. God’s grace enabled him to continue on and compelled him to give all that he had to serving and loving his Lord.
Let us not overlook the power of God’s grace to make us into someone completely new. Let us not go on as if we are useless because we made mistakes before. If God has called us to something, it is because He has created us for it, and His grace will help us accomplish it, and we can do the work and glorify God in it. Paul was able to minister to people and see them come to Christ as he had. And we can do the same thing in our lives no matter where we’ve come from. God’s grace molds us and shapes us and builds us and then prompts us to do something more for Him. So let us leave the past behind and go forth to labor for the Master.